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"The iTTi Manifesto": improving accountability and advocacy for information technology among members of governing bodies

Friday, 28 November 2014 Miguel Garcia-Menendez Posted in iTTi Views

We are living a time of sad celebration: just a few weeks ago, we were honoring the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First Great War. For sure, lots of people remember the many unfortunate consequences – both personal and social, including corporate – it provoked; but, maybe, only a few remember the savvy musings of Georges B. Clemenceau.

A former journalist, Clemenceau was Prime Minister of France during World War I. At that time he stated “La guerre! C’est une chose trop grave pour la confier à des militaires” (“War! Something too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military”); a statement one could assume that was not well received, even misunderstood, by those directly concerned (especially within the militia). But a statement of which we could, nowadays, take advantage in our corporate world.

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We are living a digital era. Today few activities, if any, escape from the application of technology (at the end, mostly digital technology). Societies, with exceptions, are benefiting from the boosting potential of technology which acts as a growth lever of our personal (quality of life), economical (competitive advantage) or socio-political (transparency, participation and democratization) interests.

But, as with war, when one regards the use of technology one can also notice a lot of not-so-good outcomes and negative consequences in the mentioned realms: personal (menaced privacy), economical (cyber-dependency or – fragility and, finally, losses; or just IT-favored business fiascos [and, finally, losses]) and socio-political (IT-enabled censorship; or, to put it simple, digital media censored the traditional way).

The better or worse attention paid to the way technology is applied and used within organizations – whether public or private, or even your own home (think on how your children are using all the technology they have at hand) – is key to reaching such positive outcomes or avoiding the negative ones.

At the corporate level, it is those accountable for such results – those populating the governing bodies of the organizations – who should pay the due attention that the use of digital technology requests. This seemed to be the idea of Prof. G. Vaughn Johnson (retired, University of Nebraska at Omaha) who, in 1990, paraphrasing Clemenceau, wrote: “Information systems are too important to leave them to computer professionals alone.” 

One could expect that, like in the case of the Clemenceau’s sentence, more than one (especially within the IT community) would disagree with that sentence. But the issue here is not the legitimate rights of IT practitioners on their realm; the actual problem is the lack of awareness or commitment of many organizational leaders regarding their role in directing and controlling (i.e., governing) the use their organizations make of IT.It is that concern what has fueled the publication – by iTTi, the Spanish think tank focused on promoting true Corporate Governance of Information Technology – of a manifesto aimed at improving directors and executives’ accountability and advocacy for information technology.

The iTTi Manifesto”, an 18-point Decalogue containing iTTi’s insights on the why, what, who and how of Corporate Governance of Information Technology, is open for your inspection. Everyone is invited to endorse the Manifesto! Join the growing list of signatories!

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This article was originally released by James McRitchie on their blog "CorpGov.net", September 29, 2014.

 

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